Temple Bar pub landlords seek €717,000 judgment over rent arrears

The owners of a Temple Bar pub are seeking a judgment of up to €717,000 against the tenant for rent arrears, the High Court has heard.

Consdorf Investments ICAV and John Bennett, owners of the former Front Lounge, now Street 66, are claiming arrears against the tenant, Fenway Inns, and three of its backers, Joseph Dunne, Thomas McCormack and Declan Mehigan, who were guarantors under the original rental contract.

Fenway and the three personal defendants deny that the guarantee binds them because they were automatically released from it in 2009 once Fenway’s net asset value exceeded €750,000.

The court heard that a 35-year lease on the Parliament Street premises was taken out by Fenway in 1995 from an annual rent of €122,500 but which, in line with rent reviews, had risen to €270,000 .

In 2011 a rent reduction agreement was reached whereby the €270,000 was reduced to €220,000 until 2015 when it would revert to the higher figure on notice from landlords.

A sublet for the new operators of the premises was concluded in 2017 when the owners agreed that the rent would remain at €220,000.

The arrears, which had already increased, amounted to some €345,000 at the time the owners took legal action and now stand at €717,000, Stephen Brady BL told the court, for the owners.

Full hearing

Mr Brady said it was open to the court to enter judgment for the full €717,000 or less, with the dispute over the difference being referred to a full hearing.

Tim Harnedy BL, for the defendants, said it was up to the owners to provide proof that the warranty release was automatically triggered in 2009, but they did not. This case should go to a full hearing, he said.

As for Fenway himself, there was no such defense, Mr. Harnedy said. However, there was a question to be judged on the sublet agreement in 2017 that the rent would be at the lower figure of €220,000 until July this year.

Ms. Justice Niamh Hyland reserved her decision.

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